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Investing in low-carbon cities is a USD 17 trillion opportunity worldwide

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According to Accelerating Low-Carbon Development in the World's Cities, the new report from the New Climate Economy, investing in public and low emission transport, building efficiency, and waste management in cities could generate savings with a current value of USD 17 trillion by 2050. With complementary national policies such as support for low-carbon innovation, reduced fossil fuel subsidies, and carbon pricing, the savings could be as high as USD 22 trillion. These low-carbon investments could also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 3.7 Gt CO2e per year by 2030, more than the current annual emissions of India.


The report offers numerous examples of cities that have achieved or can achieve economic benefits from green investments, such as:


  • Building efficiency: Singapore’s “Green Mark” programme, which aims to cover 80% of its buildings by 2030, could see a reduction in building electricity use of 22% and net economic savings of over USD 400 million.
  • Bus Rapid Transit: The economic returns of Johannesburg’s Bus Rapid Transit system in its first phase were close to USD 900 million.
  • Cycling: Copenhagen’s planned Cycle Super Highways are estimated to have an internal rate of return on investment of 19% per year.



“The steps that cities take to shrink their carbon footprints also reduce their energy costs, improve public health, and help them attract new residents and businesses,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. “This report can help accelerate the progress cities are making in all of these areas, by highlighting smart policies and encouraging cooperation through efforts like the Compact of Mayors.”


The New Climate Economy is the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. It was commissioned by seven countries (Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) as an independent initiative to examine how countries can achieve economic growth while dealing with the risks posed by climate change.



For further information, please visit the relevant New Climate Economy website.